February 26, 2016 - Resource Recycling
APR Member Highlight - Envision Plastics and Klockner Pentaplast
Recycling realities through eyes of processing experts
By Jared Paben, Plastics Recycling Update
The most important step Klockner Pentaplast took to ensure the success of its Montreal PET recycling operation wasn't determining which high-tech equipment to include it its recycling line. Instead, what mattered most was that the line went under the same roof as its sheet production.
That proximity allows the company to respond quickly when contaminants manifest as defects in the sheets.
"This is probably the most important and best decision Klockner ever made regarding plastic recycling in the last 15 years," said Michel Gosselin, site manager at the facility.
Gosselin was one of four speakers participating in a technical track session entitled "The Right Tools for the Job" at Plastics Recycling 2016 in New Orleans, held earlier this month. The speakers shared tips and discussed challenges in post-consumer plastics recovery, covering the recycling of PET, HDPE, PP and films.
Klockner Pentaplast's Montreal location produces sheets of 25 percent to 100 percent recycled content used by packaging manufacturers to produce thermoformed containers.
The facility sorts bottles by color into clear, green and "other" colors. After grinding and washing, optical and electrostatic sortation are used to sort the flakes. Electrostatic separation is particularly good at removing PVC and PETG flakes, Gosselin said. Flakes are then sent to an extruder in the same building to create the sheets.
The biggest challenge the company is currently facing is label separation, particularly pressure-sensitive labels. Klockner Pentaplast last year created its own recycling-friendly shrink film line called Pentalabel ClearFloat, used to create bottle labels that float in float-sink tanks used by PET reclaimers.
Also challenging the company is the growing use of PETG. Going back a decade or 15 years, PETG made up less than 20 parts per million of the company's flake content. Today, it's probably five-to-10 times that, said Gosselin.
Power of bale specs
Envision Plastics may be a plastics reclaimer, but the front end of its plant looks like a MRF. That's because it has to employ manual sorters to remove a variety of contaminants, a job previously limited to removing items that could damage a grinder.
Tamsin Ettefagh, vice president of Envision Plastics, said her company uses proprietary technology to produce food-contact HDPE containers from post-consumer streams. About 80 percent of Envision's pellets are sold for molding bottles.
Without using chemical stripping agents, Envision removes the adsorbed volatile chemicals, simultaneously bringing the plastic up to Food and Drug Administration standards for food-contact and improving the brightness of natural HDPE, she said.
She also explored a host of technological improvements have aided plastics recycling. As examples, better grinders produce more consistent flake sizes, allowing for improved optical sortation. Better color sorting, meanwhile, allows the company to sell colored resins into bottle markets, so a detergent bottle can become another detergent bottle, Ettefagh said. Additionally, because of automatic screen changers, Envision no longer has to worry about a blown screen on an extruder because an employee missed a screen change.
Beyond technology, the creation of bale specifications were key. Specs allowed MRFs to better understand what plastics recycling companies would accept.
"Maybe specifications being adopted by other countries would be a benefit, too," she speculated.